FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Afghan Opium Trade Back in Business

by Patrick Cockburn In Kabul

Despite promises to crack down on the drugs trade, the new Afghan government has evicted the main drug control agency from its headquarters in Kabul and taken its vehicles.

“They literally threw us into the street,” said Mir Najibullah Shams, the Secretary-General of the State High Commission for Drug Control. “I don’t have a phone to call up commanders in the provinces. They didn’t even leave us with a bicycle.”

The contempt with which the new Afghan administration has treated its main drugs agency bodes ill for any attempt to curtail opium and heroin production in Afghanistan. This is despite promises by the new administration at the summit on aid to Afghanistan in Tokyo this week that it would try to reduce the flow of narcotics out of the country in return for $4.5bn (?3.2bn) from donors.

Afghanistan is the world’s largest exporter of heroin and provides about 80 per cent of Western Europe’s supply and an even higher proportion of heroin used in Russia and Central Asia. Between a third and a half of the Afghan population is believed by experts to be involved in growing, producing or trafficking in narcotics.

Mr Shams, who has taken refuge in a room in the Afghan Foreign Ministry, showed a number of maps illustrating the huge increase in the mid-nineties in the number of provinces growing opium poppies. Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, had successfully banned the planting of poppies in 1999, but the collapse of central government control in much of Afghanistan in the last two months may mean that farmers will once again produce opium.

The former headquarters of the High Commission for Drug Control is a substantial three-storey building which has been taken over by a newspaper called Payam-I-Mujaihid which supports the government. Mr Shams admits that its 300 employees were never able to do very much about narcotics because “until you solve the problems of the Afghan farmers they will produce drugs. What do you expect them to do when they are dressed in rags and their children have nothing to eat?”

Patrick Cockburn is the author of  The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 24, 2017
Paul Street
Beyond Neoliberal Identity Politics
Daniel Read
Powder Keg: Manchester Terror Attack Could Lead to Yet Another Resurgence in Nationalist Hate
Robert Fisk
When Peace is a Commodity: Trump in the Middle East
Kenneth Surin
The UK’s Epochal Election
Jeff Berg
Lessons From a Modern Greek Tragedy
Steve Cooper
A Concrete Agenda for Progressives
Michael McKinley
Australia-as-Concierge: the Need for a Change of Occupation
William Hawes
Where Are Your Minds? An Open Letter to Thomas de Maiziere and the CDU
Steve Early
“Corporate Free” Candidates Move Up
Fariborz Saremi
Presidential Elections in Iran and the Outcomes
Dan Bacher
The Dark Heart of California’s Water Politics
Alessandra Bajec
Never Ending Injustice for Pinar Selek
Rob Seimetz
Death By Demigod
Jesse Jackson
Venezuela Needs Helping Hand, Not a Hammer Blow 
Binoy Kampmark
Return to Realpolitik: Trump in Saudi Arabia
Vern Loomis
The NRA: the Dragon in Our Midst
May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail